Sunday, May 31, 2015
The Clintons’ Favorite Way to Lie
By JONAH GOLDBERG
Dear Reader (including Crom, who cares not what I write), When my daughter was little more than a toddler, she wrote all over the wall with a pen in my wife’s home office. We confronted her about it. She listened intently, trying hard to be surprised by the news of this defilement of our domicile. “What happened, Lucy?” we asked.
After a long and nervous pause, she replied, “I know what happened.” Excited by her own duplicitous inventiveness and restrained by her desire to sell it, she said very seriously, “A bad girl must have come into the house and did this.” She tsk-tsked, “What a bad girl,” shaking her head while looking at the wall. I need not dwell on the implausibility of roving bands of ninja-like naughty toddlers — or lone-wolf munchkins — breaking into nice homes to scribble on the upstairs walls and then depart leaving no other trace of their schemes. I simply bring this up to say that my daughter’s “a bad girl did it” gambit is a wildly more powerful and resolute claim of innocence than “you have no smoking gun. Again My column from yesterday is on this very point. So I won’t recycle it here. I will, however, recycle from an infinitely better “news”letter I penned a couple months ago. I wrote, “If you want to know what Hillary Clinton would be like as president, you’re seeing it right now. There is no other Hillary. This is her.” It’s Hillary all the way down. And I wrote that before the Peter Schweizer book came out. I wrote that before Sidney Blumenthal was awakened from his slumber by a congressional subpoena (rumor has it he sleeps upside down in a basement at the Clinton Foundation wrapped in his own mothwings). My point isn’t that I am prescient. My point is that Hillary is predictable. I could have written that in 2000 when she went on her last “listening tour” in a Scooby van, or at almost any other moment of the last 30 years. There are no “new” Hillarys. There are, on occasion, new strategies to dupe people into thinking there is a new Hillary. But these Potemkin do-overs are usually as pale, thin, and see-through as the skin of an agoraphobic Goth computer programmer. The simple fact is: This is her. There is no other her. There is no other Bill, either, by the way. They are Clintons and they are eternal, Aesopian, unchanging. The tackiness and the lying, the parsing and corner-cutting, the entitlement and fakery: This is what they do. Scandals swirl around the Clintons like the cloud of dirt surrounding Pigpen not because the Clintons are the victims of their enemies, but because the Clintons are their own worst enemies. They do this to themselves. They create these problems. They are the authors of their own torment because this is who they are. DON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN Scandals swirl around the Clintons like the cloud of dirt surrounding Pigpen not because the Clintons are the victims of their enemies, but because the Clintons are their own worst enemies. This is an important political point because the Clinton strategists and spinners are invested in a theory that electing a woman will be transformative. It will be like that scene in Excalibur where King Arthur, rejuvenated by the Holy Grail, revives the brown and wasted crops and forests simply by riding by. We already had one experiment in this kind of magical thinking. It worked for Barack Obama. I don’t think it will work for Hillary. Obama was new and fresh. Hillary . . . isn’t. think this offers insight into why Hillary is betting it all on reviving the Obama coalition. I’ve written many times that I don’t think she can succeed. But maybe I’m wrong (“It’s happened before” — The Couch). And, more to the point, I’ve come to realize it’s the only strategy open to her. She can’t run to win moderates, independents, and swing voters (save for a subset of women who will vote strictly on identity-politics lines), because these voters can’t be Jedi-mind-tricked into ignoring all of her baggage. Only the hyper-partisan, the extremely uninformed, the incurably gullible, and, of course, the heavily bribed can get really excited about Hillary Clinton. HOW TO LISTEN TO A CLINTON, CONT’D I’m thinking, the phrase “eats like a bird” is really bogus. I mean, they eat nuts and bugs all day long; that’s a lot of protein, particularly given their size. But that’s not really important right now (Sorry, I’m writing this in my backyard watching my birdfeeder — which my cats consider to be a poorly-constructed and frustrating cat feeder — as I write this). Where was I? Oh, right, I’m thinking “How to Listen to a Clinton” should be an occasional feature of this “news”letter (see the last entry here). Why? Well, first of all it’s kind of in my wheelhouse. Second, I’m always looking for copy on Friday mornings and, well, if there’s a more renewable resource than Clinton lies, I’m hard pressed to think what it might be. As I said last week, the Clintons’ favorite way to lie is by telling the truth selectively. There are a lot of benefits to this oh-so-lawyerly technique. It sounds more plausible. It frustrates journalists. It comes in handy when your lies are exposed or you’re asked about them under oath. The downside is that when you use the truth to tell lies, you embed implied confessions in the silences. “There’s no smoking gun” isn’t a denial, it’s a passive-aggressive way of saying, “You’ll never catch me!” Over at Discriminations, John Rosenberg compiled some good examples of similar rhetorical techniques by the Clintons and their sock puppets. In 2002, being open about her presidential ambitions would be politically inadvisable, so Hillary denied it, Clinton-style: Responding to reports and comments from anonymous friends and advisers that she plans to run for president in 2008, Hillary Clinton told the Associated Press that “I don’t know who those people are or where they’re getting their information from because they’ve never had a conversation with me they can quote.” “Never had a conversation with me they can quote” is not the same as “these conversations never took place.” In fairness, lots of politicians lie about their presidential ambitions. My point here is to illustrate the style of Clintonian lies, not the magnitude of them. When asked by Diane Rehm if Webb Hubbell’s silence had been bought, Hillary Clinton replied, “There’s no evidence of that. There will not be any evidence of that.” That is not a denial either. This is the kind of thing Tony Soprano says when he knows all the bodies have been disposed of at Satriale’s. Here’s Bill in 1997 in response to his fundraising tactics. I don’t believe you can find any evidence of the fact that I had changed government policy solely because of a contribution. If one parses this with Clintonian precision, this is actually closer to a confession. He says it is a “fact” that he changed policy. But also note the weasel word “solely.” Were contributions a factor in his decisions? Consider all of the skid-greasing money sluicing into the Clinton Foundation from arms manufacturers, uranium moguls, and the like (not to mention children’s charities!). No doubt there are arguments one can make on the merits for the decisions donors were lobbying for. Every lobbyist I’ve ever met — and I’ve met hundreds — can make good, or good-sounding, arguments for their position, just as every country lobbying FIFA for a World Cup billet can make its case on the merits. It’s just that sometimes a little baksheesh helps officials see those merits more clearly. And finally, here’s Lanny Davis on Fox News last month: There’s no evidence that President Clinton, that I’ve seen yet, tried to influence any decision by any governmental agency. Yes, and there was no evidence that a bad girl didn’t break into my house to draw on the wall, either.